The Face of the Farm

Ohio University’s Hidden Farm Teaches Sustainability

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ATHENS, Ohio — Hidden on a gravel road on the east side of Athens lies a constantly-growing hub for agriculture education. 

The Ohio University Student Farm provides plant biology students a hands-on opportunity to learn how to grow their own food and sustain a garden. The farm is run by OU Associate Professor in plant biology, Dr. Art Trese.

Tomatoes grown by students at the farm

It started in the 1970s with just a couple of garden beds and an upgrade in curriculum forced its expansion to nearly two acres. 

The farm became a part of a ‘food studies theme’ in the College of Arts and Sciences. When the curator of this program saw the farm, they wanted to do more with it.

Student interns harvesting raspberries for the farmers market

An internship program was created to pay food studies theme students to tend to the farm year-round.

Student Intern Olivia Kinczel said she believes the farm gives students a new perspective.

“If you’re able to come here and like see where you get your food and like you see a bunch of other students working on it too so you feel like it’s not so far removed from you,” she said.

After just one year, funding was cut. After a series of trials and errors, Trese and his students created a business to fund student interns. They started their own farmers market.

Boxes of harvested fruits and vegetables ready for the weekly farmers market

Graduate student and teaching assistant Emily Estep said students get to see their food going from farm to table.

“It’s very rewarding to plant a seed in may and harvest what you grew in August and either eat it or sell it to somebody who’s going to go home and eat it,” she said.